This morning we had the third in our six week series,“God With Us” and Karin shared her thoughts with us about how God can be with us through prophets, then and now. Our readings were from Jonah 1: 1-3; 3: 1-5 and v.10 and John 3: 16-21
Heston and Lydia led us in our worship from the freezing cold church building but they were accompanied by a number of other people who had recorded music and readings. If you would like to contribute something to the a service – video, audio (or maybe in some other way!) then please do get in touch – we may be physically distanced but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take part!
I think it must have been the Spring of 1979 when I first set foot in Emmanuel. I had learned from my Anglican and Methodist friends that the church near the Parkinson Tower was where the Chaplaincy was based. One Sunday I went to the Eucharist which I found to be very similar to the Catholic Mass I grew up with and I enjoyed chatting with friends and meeting new people after the service. The choir then started rehearsing an anthem I recognised and within minutes I had joined the Emmanuel Choir. I suppose that was the start of a love affair with Emmanuel that many years later brought me back to the refurbished building as a Quaker chaplain.
Emmanuel Church became the heart of University Chaplaincy in Leeds just because it happened to be where it was – right where much of the University and the Polytechnic was to be built in later years. And it just happened to be called “Emmanuel” – “God with us” – a name that in itself epitomises what chaplaincy is about.
Chaplaincy isn’t like parish ministry. It isn’t inviting people to come to our place, it’s being with people in the place they are already – be it a university, a hospital a prison or an airport. It’s not so much being a host as a guest, not so much taking people on a journey as joining them in theirs, not so much leading as accompanying. Chaplaincy is about being with people just as God is with us.
Since the pandemic took hold, though, we have had to look again about how to be that presence, as by and large we are not wandering about the campuses – and when we do there are not so many people about anyway. How to be that presence when we, and the people we serve, are, by and large, absent?
We continue to struggle with this, but there have been for me some unexpected flowers in the desert. One has been the sense of “spiritual” presence. A Quaker once wrote “In the real spiritual world there are no starts and ends, all space, time and life are boundless and eternal.” From time to time in shared worship, even shared silence by Zoom and telephone I can become aware that I am no less close to the person I am with, even though I am only with them “remotely”, than if they were with me in my little office in the Emmanuel building. In the real spiritual world there is no remoteness. There is only presence
Thought for the Day by Malcolm Heath (St Michael’s)
‘Endless options for a drink’ and ‘retail therapy’, second and sixth items in a local estate agency’s list of 10 reasons to live in Headingley, were nowhere near the top of my priorities. It was not until I reached the tenth and last item that I found something to my taste: ‘access to outdoor space’.
Admittedly, when I moved to Leeds in 1988 the fact that I’d been offered a job here was my overriding priority: but a job in a city with a high percentage of green space was a welcome bonus. I was only briefly a Headingley resident: after a few months I migrated from a rented flat to my first house—in Burley. Twenty-five years later, I moved just around the corner to a larger house—still in Burley.
In the Bible, ‘garden’ occurs around 66 times—more than I expected. Here are just a few. A fertile garden is a gift of God, too easily lost (Genesis 2-3). Desirable gardens can prompt envious abuses of power (1 Kings 21). ‘Solomon’ reflects on the insignificance of, among other things, his garden (Ecclesiastes 2.1-8). The Song of Songs is full of garden imagery celebrating love. But gardens are two-edged: they may be shameful (Isaiah 1.27-31) or a joyful gift of God (Isaiah 51.3, 58.11, 61.11). A garden may be an image of God’s assured forgiveness (Hosea 14.4-7) or punishment (Amos 4.9) or restoration (Amos 9.14). Jesus was betrayed and arrested in a garden (John 18.1); he was laid to rest in a garden (19.38); but the gardener was the risen Jesus himself (20.15).
A cursory glimpse into the past by an elderly organist !
I have lived around Leeds all my life and since the age of 10 have played the organ and so have seen many changes.
When I was 16/17 I was invited to All Hallows to play the organ while Bill Simpson conducted the choir. They sang special music once a month instead of a sermon at Evensong. It was the old church then and on one occasion the Fauré Requiem was performed. Bill always reckoned that it was one of the first performances in Leeds by a church choir. Unfortunately that church building burnt down to be replaced by the new building. You don’t need telling what tremendous changes have happened since (see Katharine Salmon’s TFTD 4/1/21). Bill went on to become organist and choirmaster at St Michael’s.
So Bill and I met up again when I came to St Chad’s and the two choirs joined together occasionally.
If we look at changes in church buildings, Headingley Methodist was reorganised, St Chad’s has been and there have been changes at St Michael’s.
St Columba’s United Reformed Church was built from new.
Now we have the Headingley and Hyde Park Team Ministry – still developing.
We must not forget Churches Together in Headingley and how many different Christian faiths meet up – this did not happen as much as today.
All these churches have parish centres being used to support other activities as well.
Surely this shows how much God has done and is continuing to do in this area.
Perhaps it is not until we look back we realise just how much this is and that God’s time scale is rather different to ours.
This morning we had the second in our six week series, “’God With Us’: Angels and Aha! Moments”, looking at how we can continue to experience the Christmas message in the struggles of our daily lives.
Heston and Lydia led us in our worship and Pippa shared with us some thoughts about “Angels” as symbols of the moments when we feel God with us, with the help of some famous drawings and paintings (see the slide show below the video for a better view of these artworks).
We continue to share our Sunday worship with the minimum number of people physically together but we want to involve as many people in the service itself via recordings – music, readings, prayers. If you wish to help out in our service then do please contact us.
The event that showed me ‘God with us in Hyde Park’ was back in 2014. At this time I was a student in Hyde Park living with five friends. In June of that year there was a week long, student led, community project called June Project. To finish a fantastic week of house cleaning, graffiti removal, tidying community areas across Hyde Park we hosted a street party.
We dropped invites to many houses on the neighbouring streets, we catered big and kept fingers crossed for good weather. We closed the road, strung bunting up and chalked hopscotch where cars had previously been parked. As the morning wore on the street slowly filled with people from all walks of life. We cooked food and served drinks to so many people, our neighbours that we had never met before.
Hyde Park is a diverse place with people from many backgrounds. On a student timetable we often wouldn’t see our neighbours who were up much earlier for school and work. To see young and old talking and laughing together on our street was joyful and such a surprise when many of us spent all our time with our student peer group. We were unaware of the lives lived alongside our own.
It is well known that relations between students and longer term residents are not always positive in Hyde Park; so this street party symbolised something bigger than the individuals involved. Within that week, and especially on the day of the street party, I saw the spirit of God moving within the connections built and barriers broken down. That day we started to see the spark of God and the fullness of humanity in the other.